REVIEW: “Federal Bureau of Physics” #2

(DC/Vertigo Comics, 2013)

Review by John Monaghan

Writer: Simon Oliver
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Colours: Rico Renzi
Letters: Steve Wands

Collider had to change its name after issue one because someone else had that name locked down. So here’s Federal Bureau of Physics / Collider #2.

Whereas issue #1 was concerned with building up and alleviating tension throughout and providing a bit of context for the series, issue #2 steadily builds up tension throughout and ends with a set piece that I didn’t expect this early into the series. I really like the speed with which Simon Oliver has fired straight into a big story arc. Everything that he set up in issue #1 – physics disturbances, parallel dimensions, Jay being held to ransom – is brought into play by the end of FBP #2. A flashback to four years ago adds contour and depth to Adam and Jay’s friendship, which is then brought into conflict in a huge set piece at the end. It’s a lot to do in a constricted two-issue space but Oliver seems to have a clear idea of where he’s going and what he wants to do. Issue #1 saw cycles of tension being built up and alleviated. Issue #2 is one long build up, the speed of the plot being offset by the slow increase of tension and speed. When Jay and Adam are fired into the parallel dimension (‘bubbleverse’) through the Human Transport Collider, the pace picks up in a very limited space with alternating pages showing Cicero in the real world and Adam in the bubbleverse. I’m trying hard not to give the plot away. The first two pages juxtapose Adam being accelerated by the Collider alongside Cicero standing still in the FBP office making a plot-advancing discovery. The next two pages show Adam and Jay arriving in the parallel dimension but it limits our view to the alley they arrive in and there is little movement from them as they stand up and collect themselves. Meanwhile, Cicero in the real world has driven across the city to investigate his discovery. Cicero forecasts what we are about to see in the bubbleverse and then Oliver takes us inside.

I like how well Oliver operates in the pocket. He knows that if he’s going to progress the plot quickly then he needs to make the small spaces count and I feel like that’s something he does well. It’s great that he factors Rodriguez’s art into this and gives it room to breathe with an economy of text. It shows a real sensitivity to the medium that at the point where tension is at a high point, Oliver holds back and lets Rodriguez show us the bubbleverse and tell us the story of the final cliff hanger set-piece with only bare-bones text accompanying it. I think Rodriguez is killing it with the art too. There’s a great contrast between the real world and the physics disruptions that distorting it. The bubbleverse looks like a totally different place from the real world and he shows some versatility in the half-page where the molecular instabilities in the bubbleverse cause two people to be mashed together and mutate.

So far so good for Collider/FBP! Looks like I’ll be sticking with the series for the foreseeable future and I’ll probably even be keeping an eye on whatever else Oliver and Rodriguez do. Read it!

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Follow John Monaghan on Twitter:  @deadlifts

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